In a deep soup pot, saute shallots and onions in heated oil. Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, adding more water if needed to keep the 3-cup level of liquid. Cook lentils until barely tender. Add all other vegetables and seasonings. Continue cooking at least 20 minutes longer. Fork mash or puree mixture. Serve warm, garnished with croutons or chives.